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COVID-19: Virus cases send hundreds of students home from Vermont schools in the Upper Valley

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/14/2021 3:58:12 PM
Modified: 9/14/2021 3:58:11 PM

BETHEL — COVID-19 cases affecting schools on the Vermont side of the Upper Valley have required that more than 200 students stay home at times during the past week.

The eighth grade at White River Valley Middle School was sent home early on Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution due to COVID-19 positivity within the school community,” Superintendent Jamie Kinnarney said in a message to parents.

The early dismissal was aimed at giving the Bethel school’s staff time to conduct contact tracing, Kinnarney said in his message.

In addition, COVID-19 cases in the past week have required that about 150 students in Bradford and Newbury, Vt., quarantine and shift to remote learning, said Orange East Supervisory Union Superintendent Emilie Knisley.

Newbury Elementary School kindergartners were asked to stay home on Monday and the after-school program there was canceled due to a student case discovered over the weekend.

Last Wednesday, eighth and 10th graders at Oxbow Union High School in Bradford stayed home after students tested positive.

School officials asked preschoolers and third and fourth graders at Bradford Elementary School to stay home last Tuesday due to two positive student cases.

Single cases also were reported at the Hartford Memorial Middle School and Hartland Elementary School this past week, according to the Vermont Department of Health.

The Hartford case, which required that 41 students quarantine, comes following another case reported at the middle school the prior week. Superintendent Tom DeBalsi said he did not believe the two cases were connected.

Colleges see cases

HANOVER — Cases of COVID-19 also are ticking upward at colleges in the Twin States.

Dartmouth College, where classes for undergraduates began on Monday, had 20 active cases as of that day, including 12 undergraduates, five graduate students and three employees. The college identified one cluster of cases including at least four students on Sept. 4.

The University of New Hampshire had 157 active cases as of Monday. In the week that ended Sunday, UNH reported 139 positive tests, which was up from 32 the week before.

The University of Vermont had 44 cases last week, which was up from 17 the week prior.

Haverhill school employees required to wear masks

HAVERHILL — The Haverhill School Board, at its meeting Monday night, decided to require employees to wear masks now that the town has 11 active cases of COVID-19, according to the superintendent.

Masks remain optional for students, but if a student tests positive for COVID-19, that student would be required to isolate at home for 10 days and classmates would be required to wear masks for 10 days “until all was clear,” said Laurie Melanson, superintendent for SAU 23, which includes Haverhill.

If a school has three or more active COVID-19 cases at the same time, all students and staff will be required to wear a mask for 10 days, beginning the day of the third person’s positive test.

The board, at a meeting last month, had opted to start the school year without requiring masks. Many, but not all, school employees and students in Haverhill have been wearing masks voluntarily.

Sullivan County to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics

CLAREMONT — Several walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics are planned this month, hosted by the Greater Sullivan County Public Health Network in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock and available to people 12 and older.

■11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Claremont Community Center, 152 South St.

■4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21, Claremont Fire Station, 100 Broad St.

■10 a.m. to noon Sept. 28, River Valley Community College.

Just 49% of Sullivan County residents and 44% of Claremont residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, below the state average of 54% for Granite Staters overall, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.




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